YouGov travel trends report released at ATM

Apr 27 2016


YouGov has unveiled the results of its latest Travel Booking Trends study for the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region at ATM 2016, with one of the key findings highlighting that 51 per cent of respondents claim the concept of virtual reality in their travel booking process is very appealing.

Scott Booth, Research Director & Head of Travel, Tourism and Leisure at YouGov ME presented the research results as part of an interactive panel discussion held at the new Global Stage arena on April 26, under the theme ‘The Role of Big Data and Immersive Technologies in the Future Travel Booking Experience.

Focus on travel booking experiences

The study sought opinion from over 10,000 travellers across 21 countries in the MENASA region and was designed to understand the latest reaction to different aspects of the travel booking experience. In particular, it sought attitudes towards peer-to-peer services, the rise of travel planning services that use predictive technology to help develop itineraries and virtual reality ‘try before you buy’ technology.

“One of the most exciting areas where technology is influencing consumer behavior and online activity is the emergence of virtual reality tools in the travel sphere. This kind of immersive experience gives you the chance to try before you buy, and there are examples of this live on the exhibition floor this week,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.

Over half of respondents in the study found the concept of virtual reality very appealing, making it the most appealing technological concept to aid their travel planning and booking process. Many also indicated their interest in virtual reality as adding value to the decision-making experience with 64 per cent willing to visit a travel store with the technology and 71 per cent prepared to download travel specific virtual reality content to their devices. One-third also confirmed that they would book their next holiday following a positive in-store virtual reality experience.

Scott Booth commented, “While the outcome remains uncertain, this study demonstrates content is king—whoever has the best, most accessible virtual reality content the soonest will stand to benefit most directly from the technology. Over time, we would expect immersive virtual reality content to become the norm, and consumers becoming accustomed to making decisions on the basis of this highly enriched content.”

Itinerary planning

When it comes to predictive itinerary planners, 62 per cent of survey respondents claimed they would use predictive itinerary planning services, particularly Emiratis. In addition 43 per cent claimed they would pay to use them, which was particularly voiced amongst respondents in South Asia. That said, 47 per cent resisted the notion saying it would remove some of the joy of planning their next holiday, interestingly this was also particularly prevalent amongst Emiratis (65 per cent). Around 71 per cent also expressed concerns about ensuring their data was completely secure before using the concept, which was particularly voiced amongst Westerners (79 per cent).

Others were concerned about how online travel companies would use their stored data (54 per cent), with Westerners and Emiratis the most concerned.

Booth continued, “Certain travellers particularly enjoy planning personal holidays. There is a sense of pride in pulling together and experiencing exactly the right trip for them and their companions. While predictive planners in a sense represent a loss of control in planning, there is immense potential for a service that can dramatically reduce the burden of planning and maintain or even elevate the quality and value of holidays experienced.”

“With 62 per cent of respondents claiming they would use a predictive itinerary planner, with Emiratis the keenest (78 per cent), followed by Westerners (52 per cent). It appears that within the next 12 months even more MENASA travellers will get the online travel bug,” said Noblet-Segers.

Indeed, YouGov’s 2015 Travel Oracle report for the MENASA region found that 38 per cent of travellers booked all their travel online in 2015 because they found more options available online. Over the last 12 months, 25 per cent of leisure travellers used an online travel agent to book flights, with 19 per cent booking online direct and just 11 per cent booking via an offline travel agent. The report also found that 57 per cent of travellers claimed that technology had made their travel planning and booking more spontaneous.

Technology based networks

Peer-to-peer services, which are technology-based networks related to the hospitality/tourism industry but offering services from individuals and sold through a technology-based platform and include car booking services like Uber and online accommodation portals like Airbnb, was another area highlighted by the YouGov Travel Trends report.

Over three-quarters of respondents were aware of peer-to-peer services for booking transportation, yet current usage statistics for business and leisure travel are still fairly low, at just 15 per cent and 12 per cent respectively. However, when it comes to accommodation, only 55 per cent of respondents were aware of the concept with just 9 per cent currently using it for business or leisure purposes. On the plus side, 27 per cent said they found the idea of using peer-to-peer taxi services very appealing, with 17% finding peer-to-peer accommodation services very appealing.